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Martinu: Complete Piano Music Vol 2 / Giorgio Koukl

Release Date: 02/27/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557918   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A fascinating selection of Martinu's early piano works, plus two late trifles

In his classic biography of Martinu (Allen Wingate: 1962), Milos Šafránek states that in “the large and varied assortment of youthful works and experiments, Puppets holds a singular and significant place”. Composed in three sets between 1912 and 1924 (but published in reverse sequence; they are played here in chronological order), Puppets sounds anything but experimental now, though for Martinu’s hometown of Policka just after the Great War, the somewhat Satiesque charms of these 14 pieces must have seemed highly modern.

Heard with the innocent ear, most
Read more listeners would be hard put to identify the composer of Puppets and I suspect the same applies for another of the novelties here, the pretty, if flimsy, children’s suite Spring in the Garden (1920). This is no match for what Mark Gresham calls “the bold, jazzy and propulsive” Film en miniature (1925), one of the first products of Martinu’s Paris sojourn. The pearl of Koukl’s programme, though, is Butterflies and Birds of Paradise, written at Christmas of the same year as Spring in the Garden but light years ahead of it in quality. Here Martinu uses impressionism as if born to it.

Still, none of these early pieces, nor even The Fifth Day of the Fifth Moon (1948, dedicated to Tcherepnin’s wife and the only work otherwise available) really sound like the mature Martinu. Only in the 29th and final track, The Booksellers of the Quai Malaquais (1948; dedicated to the composer’s wife) do we encounter one of those heart-stopping themes familiar from the symphonies. Koukl’s performances, occasionally a little over-robust, as in Butterflies, are very warmly recorded but this is a splendid disc despite that. Recommended.

-- Guy Rickards, Gramophone [5/2007]
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Works on This Recording

Puppets: Book 1 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Giorgio Koukl (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Czech Republic 
Venue:  RSI Studios, Lugano, Switzerland 
Length: 11 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Notes: RSI Studios, Lugano, Switzerland (10/06/2005 - 10/09/2005)
Composition written: Czech Republic (1912 - 1914). 

Sound Samples

Loutky (Puppets), H. 92: No. 1. Pierrotovo zastaveniako (Pierrot's Serenade)
Loutky (Puppets), H. 92: No. 2. Valaik sentimentalni loutky (The Sentimental Puppet's Waltz)
Loutky (Puppets), H. 92: No. 3. Colombina (Columbine)
Loutky (Puppets), H. 92: No. 4. Ples loutek (Puppet Ball)
Loutky, H. 116: No. 1. Loutkove divadlo (Puppet Show)
Loutky, H. 116: No. 2. Harlekyn (Harlequin)
Loutky, H. 116: No. 3. Colombina vzpomina (Columbine Remembers)
Loutky, H. 116: No. 4. Nemocna loutka (The Sick Puppet)
Loutky, H. 116: No. 5. Colombina zpiva (Columbine Sings)
Loutky, H. 137: No. 1. Colombina tanai (Columbine Dances)
Loutky, H. 137: No. 2. Nova loutka (The New Puppet) (Shimmy)
Loutky, H. 137: No. 3. Ostychava panenka (The Shy Puppet)
Loutky, H. 137: No. 4. Pohadka (Fairy-tale)
Loutky, H. 137: No. 5. Tanec loutek (Dance of The Puppets)
Film en miniature, H. 148: I. Tango
Film en miniature, H. 148: II. Scherzo
Film en miniature, H. 148: III. Ukolebavka (Berceuse)
Film en miniature, H. 148: IV. Valse
Film en miniature, H. 148: V. Chanson
Film en miniature, H. 148: VI. Carillon
Jaro v zahrade (Spring in the Garden), H. 125: I. Co si ted budeme hrati? Na honenou? (What shall we play now? Tag?)
Jaro v zahrade (Spring in the Garden), H. 125: II. Myslim, ze bych uz mel jit spat. (I think I should go to sleep now)
Jaro v zahrade (Spring in the Garden), H. 125: III. Proc bychom si nezahrali na vojaky. (Why shouldn't we play soldiers?)
Jaro v zahrade (Spring in the Garden), H. 125: IV. Neni to snad nic zleho, utrhnu-li si nekolik kvetin. (It isn't bad, is it, to pick a few flowers)
Motyli a rajky (Butterflies and Birds of Paradise), H. 127: I. Motyli v kvetinach (Butterflies in flowers)
Motyli a rajky (Butterflies and Birds of Paradise), H. 127: II. Motyli a rajky (Butterflies and birds of paradise)
Motyli a rajky (Butterflies and Birds of Paradise), H. 127: III. Rajky nad morem (Birds of paradise above the sea)
The Fifth Day of the Fifth Moon, H. 318
Les bouquinistes du quai Malaquais, H. 319: Les bouquinistes du Quai Malaquais, H. 319

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